DeAndre Jordan and the Defense: Previewing Clippers vs. Raptors

Just one day after a closely contested loss in Boston, the Clippers will look to get back on track with a win in Canada against the Raptors. Toronto currently ranks fifth in points per game and fourth in the Eastern Conference, which should make you wonder – can the Clippers’ defense handle such a task?

If there is one area where the Clippers miss Chris Paul more than any other, it’s on the defensive end. LA is now a mere 2-6 since he was sidelined with a thumb injury. Although the offense has been running well through Blake Griffin, they’ve allowed 118.9 points per game during Paul’s absence and have looked helpless at times. The only answer to their problems seems to be a better all-around effort on defense, which we’ll get into later.

Toronto has not played up to their usual level as of late either, as they’ll enter the match-up going 3-7 in their last 10, including two losses to the Magic, another against the Suns, and one 35-point blowout versus the lowly Hornets. However, perimeter threats like Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross could spell trouble for the Clippers.

Keys To Success

First, Blake must continue to be Blake. He’s been an absolute monster lately, and even recorded the team’s first 30-point performance of the season against the Suns last Wednesday. Aside from scoring, Griffin has provided us with some beautiful dishes as well.

The Clippers also need DeAndre Jordan to be a bigger factor on offense. The recently named All-Star has scored over 10 points in just one of his last six games. We’ve seen that he is capable of more than just finishing lobs, so it would be worthwhile to look for him inside every now and then. On the flip side, Jordan is eating players alive in the paint. He’s recorded at least two blocks in three of the Clippers’ last six games. Boston attempted a season-high 52 threes yesterday, a true testament to the legitimacy of Jordan’s defensive impact.

RELATED STORY: DeAndre Jordan to appear in Dunk Contest

Unfortunately, DJ isn’t the only Clipper that’s off the hook. As was mentioned earlier, the Clips are surrendering a massive amounts of points per game, which is ultimately what’s killing them. Luckily, DeMar DeRozan, Toronto’s top scorer, will likely sit with an ankle injury. A potential remedy for this defensive breakdown lays in Luc Mbah a Moute, who played just 14 minutes against the Celtics. Although essentially a non-factor on offense, Mbah a Moute is regarded as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league. Adding him to starting lineup could certainly stifle the Raptors’ potent offense. The combination of DeAndre Jordan and Luc Mbah a Moute should make the Clippers much more formidable on defense.

February 2, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) dunks to score a basket against the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

February 2, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) dunks to score a basket against the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Players To Watch

Austin Rivers and J.J. Redick haven’t been playing up to par as of late, as they combined for just 11 points on Sunday. Redick’s ability to jump-start the offense will likely be needed. Hopefully, Austin can find his way from beyond the arc again soon. He’s cooled down since having a few 20-point performances in January.

Jamal Crawford has found his way again, as he has gone for 21 and 23 in the last two games. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year fell into a slump last month, but has been shining bright since Paul went down. He needs to keep it up in order for LA to keep the wins coming.

The Verdict

If the Clippers have another no-show performance in Toronto, it may be time to consider making a move. The trade deadline isn’t far, and LA needs another playmaker on defense. It’s not going to get any easier from here. At least, not until we get our Point God back.

This article originally appeared on